After more than 160 years of operations, VWR has truly expanded its reach around the globe. Founded in 1852 as the California-based John Taylor Company, VWR today works with clients across many industries all in pursuit of its vision to enable science.
Headquartered in Radnor, Pa., VWR is a leading, global, independent provider of products, services and solutions to laboratory and production facilities. It serves more than 120,000 customers annually in many industries including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, industrial, education, government and healthcare. VWR helps to accelerate scientific innovation by providing customers the most effective and efficient solutions for their product, equipment and service needs.
“We do this by offering unmatched product choice, operational excellence and differentiated services that improve our customers’ productivity from discovery in research and education all the way through production,” says Tim Wedemyer, senior vice president of operations for North America. “Customers choose to work with VWR because our dedicated team is focused on supporting their needs, so that new goals can be realized in laboratories and production facilities around the globe.”
VWR also works with approximately 4,500 suppliers worldwide to provide its broad offering of products. The company fills approximately 17,000 orders per day. VWR became a publicly traded company in October 2014 and as a result has already seen increased interest and exposure in the company. All North American distribution locations are ISO9001 certified and several are now ISO14001 certified.
VWR has a strong leadership position in the industry, with more than a million unique products available on a global scale. About 18 percent of revenues are from sales of equipment while 45 percent is from consumables, 27 percent from chemicals, three percent from services and seven percent from other areas. Although services account for a small percent of revenue, the customers who purchase these services also purchase about 25 percent of VWR’s total product sales.
“Customers value VWR’s suite of value-added services and are thus more likely to partner with VWR to access our vast range of products, improve their supply chains and increase their efficiency,” Wedemyer says.
While VWR’s complete offering is what differentiates the company from competitors, it is its services that move the company closer to its vision of enabling science. In the early days, VWR offered basic procurement and operational services, like purchasing, inventory and order management. Today, it also offers higher-end laboratory services where VWR’s people are now actively involved in scientific discovery.
“For example, we provide the services of more than 50 VWR lab technicians and bench researchers to one of our major pharma accounts,” Wedemyer says. “By taking advantage of our services, we are now driving efficiency into this customer’s research organization. Customers who purchase services from VWR or use our electronic tools, like our proprietary stock room management system VSR+, are also purchasing products from us. They see us as a one-stop shop for all their needs.”
VWR now has a significant number of its associates at more than 200 customer sites, providing a broad spectrum of services. This edge on its competitors is what has allowed VWR to see continual growth over the years, contributing to its current position as a leading global laboratory supplier and distributor.
To ensure continued success, providing superior customer service is essential. VWR’s call center and warehouse teams focus on key customer centric metrics to ensure customer satisfaction. For example, in the warehouse it aims for a zero error rate. For our call centers, it wants first call resolution.
“To help support our efforts in the Americas, we have made significant investments in our infrastructure, systems and people,” Wedemyer says. “We implemented SAP to replace a legacy ERP system and invested in a new customer relationship management system and introduced a new global web platform.”
VWR customer surveys also ensure that it is hearing the voice of the customer. Feedback from these surveys help identify improvements and support strong alignment with customers.
Additionally, VWR built a state-of-the-art 500,000-square-foot facility in Visalia, Calif. in 2012 to serve the scientific community throughout the western United States. It is VWR’s largest distribution center and has received LEED Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council.
“Across North America, we continuously make investments to upgrade our existing facilities to drive efficiencies and support the needs of our customers,” Wedemyer says. “We utilize best-in-class systems, technology and material handling equipment to enable our teams to consistently meet and exceed customer requirements.”
VWR is well positioned to support both the largest biopharma companies and smaller biotech companies. The company offers a broad range of products and services that can meet their unique challenges. Additionally, supply chain security is among the key challenges for production customers manufacturing pharma products. As part of its supplier operations, VWR provides customers with assurance and security to support customer production. The company also participates in collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment with many of its larger customers to mitigate supply chain risk.
As VWR expands offerings while delivering on its value proposition, it wants to be the most efficient choice in the industry and by finding solutions to support customers’ goals. It aims to think ahead while maintaining flexibility, striving for perfect order fulfillment, transparency and predictability. VWR’s future investments will give customers unprecedented supply chain visibility, and its people will continue to provide leading service.
“Our people are central to our success,” Wedemyer says. “Their knowledge, experience, passion for constant improvement and commitment to superior service all support our vision to enable science.”